03 November 2023

The History and Traditions of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a quintessentially American holiday, a time for families to gather, share a special meal, and express gratitude for life’s blessings. It’s a day of reflection, appreciation, and, of course, a bountiful feast. In this blog, we’ll embark on a journey through the origins, traditions, and controversies surrounding Thanksgiving.


What is Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving, also known as Thanksgiving Day, is a national holiday in the United States, celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. It’s time to give thanks for the harvest and blessings of the past year.


How Did Thanksgiving Start?

The roots of Thanksgiving trace back to a 1621 celebration in Plymouth, Massachusetts, when Pilgrims and Native Americans gathered to give thanks for a successful harvest. This event is often considered the first Thanksgiving.


Where Does Thanksgiving Come From?

Thanksgiving’s roots are intertwined with historical events, religious practices, and cultural traditions. Its evolution into a beloved national holiday has made it a symbol of unity and gratitude.


Thanksgiving’s Ancient Origins

Thanksgiving shares common threads with ancient harvest festivals celebrated worldwide. Cultures from the Greeks to the Chinese have given thanks for the bounty of the land, celebrating the season’s harvest.


Thanksgiving at Plymouth

The Pilgrims’ celebration in Plymouth is an enduring image of the holiday. They came to America on the Mayflower, seeking religious freedom and a better life. Thanksgiving marked their gratitude for the help of the Native Americans in teaching them how to grow crops.


How Did Thanksgiving Become a National Holiday?

The credit for Thanksgiving becoming a national holiday goes to Sarah Josepha Hale, a writer and magazine editor. Her campaign, spanning several decades, finally convinced President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 to declare Thanksgiving a national holiday.


Thanksgiving Food

Thanksgiving is synonymous with a feast. A traditional Thanksgiving meal includes turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. These dishes symbolize the bountiful harvest and reflect the gratitude of those early settlers.


Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

One of the most anticipated events on Thanksgiving is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It’s a colorful, joyous spectacle featuring giant balloons, marching bands, and celebrities. The parade has been an integral part of Thanksgiving since 1924.


Thanksgiving Controversies

Thanksgiving isn’t without its controversies. For Native Americans, it’s a day that symbolizes the loss of their lands and the suffering caused by colonization. Some view Thanksgiving as a celebration of the Pilgrims’ arrival, ignoring the complexities of history.

Thanksgiving is more than a meal; it’s a reminder to pause, reflect, and express gratitude. Its history is a complex tapestry of cultural traditions, ancient celebrations, and national unity. It’s a day to celebrate the blessings of life, surrounded by the warmth of loved ones. As you sit down for your Thanksgiving feast, remember the centuries of history and the diverse perspectives that have shaped this holiday into the beautiful, gratitude-filled day we celebrate today.